"THE BOOK OF ACTS" To See And Be Free! (26:18) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                      To See And Be Free! (26:18)


1. When Saul of Tarsus (later known as the apostle Paul) was on the road to Damascus...
   a. The Lord Jesus appeared to him in a blinding light - Ac 26:12-14
   b. Jesus identified Himself, and told Saul the task he would fulfill - Ac 26:15-17

2. The commission given to Saul concerning both Jews and Gentiles was
   clear... - Ac 26:18
   a. "to open their eyes"
   b. "so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of
      Satan to God"
   c. "that they may receive forgiveness and a place among those 
      sanctified by faith in Me."

[In this lesson, I want to direct our attention to the idea of turning
"from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God."  Let's
begin with the idea of turning...]


      1. Many people walk in the futility of their minds - Ep 4:17
      2. Their understanding darkened, alienated from the life of God- Ep 4:18
      3. Because of ignorance, because of the blindness of their heart - Ep 4:19
      4. Past feeling, given over to lewdness, working uncleanness with greed - Ep 4:19
      -- This helps us to understand the moral decline prevalent in our society

      1. He offers the light of life and truth - Jn 8:12; 14:6
      2. The truth (that which is true, real) is to be found in Jesus- Ep 4:20-21
      3. Who teaches us to put off corrupt and deceitful lusts - Ep 4:22
      4. Who renews the spirit of our minds, in true righteousness and
         holiness - Ep 4:23-24
      -- Only in Jesus can we find our way through the moral morass in the world  

[Jesus helps us to "see the light", so we can then "walk as children of
light" and "expose the unfruitful works of darkness (Ep 5:8-14).  But
in order for this to happen we must be set free, delivered...]


      1. He works in the sons of disobedience, who fulfill their lusts 
         and desires - Ep 2:1-3; Ti 3:3
      2. As man sins, he becomes enslaved to sin - Jn 8:34
      3. Slavery to sin leads to death, which is what we deserve - Ro 6:16,23
      4. Even the "good man" finds himself enslaved by his sin - Ro 7:14-24
      -- What a terrible dilemma, but in Christ there is deliverance! - Ro 7:25

      1. He offers deliverance from the guilt of sin
         a. Through forgiveness of sins - Ac 26:18
         b. With redemption through His blood - Ep 1:7
         c. So there is no more condemnation for sin - Ro 8:1; Jn 5:24
         d. This occurs when we are baptized into Christ - Ac 2:38; 22:16
      2. He provides deliverance from the bondage of sin
         a. As we walk according to the Spirit - Ro 8:1-4
         b. As we set our minds on the things of the Spirit - Ro 8:5-8
         c. For the Spirit indwells the Christian - Ro 8:9-11
         d. And with the Spirit's aid, we can put to death the deeds of the body - Ro 8:12-13
      -- Instead of serving Satan and sin, we can now live as sons of God! - Ro 8:14


1. By faith in Jesus, we receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance... - Ac 26:18
   a. Forgiveness through His blood - Ep 1:7
   b. An inheritance in which the Spirit is the down payment - Ep 1:13-14 

2. By faith in Jesus, we are thus sanctified (set apart)... - Ac 26:18
   a. Delivered from the power of darkness, conveyed into His kingdom - Col 1:13
   b. Free to set on our minds on things above, to put off the old and 
      put on the new - Col 3:1-17

Thus Jesus helps us "To See And Be Free!"   It begins when in faith and
repentance we are baptized into Christ (cf. Tit 3:3-7).  In the words
of what some take to be an early baptismal hymn...

                        "Awake, you who sleep,
                        Arise from the dead,
                        And Christ will give you light."
                                             - Ep 5:14

Have you seen the light of truth and life?  Have you been delivered from
the power of Satan and sin, empowered to serve God in righteousness and holiness?  

If not, look to Jesus in obedient faith...
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2013

Archaeology and the New Testament by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Archaeology and the New Testament

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Any time a book alleges to report historical events accurately, that book potentially opens itself up to an immense amount of criticism. If such a book claims to be free from all errors in its historical documentation, the criticism frequently becomes even more intense. But such should be the case, for it is the responsibility of present and future generations to know and understand the past, and to insist that history, including certain monumental moments, is recorded and related as accurately as possible.
The New Testament does not necessarily claim to be a systematic representation of first-century history. It is not, per se, merely a history book. It does claim, however, that the historical facts related in the text are accurate, with no margin of error (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Acts 1:1-3). It is safe to say that, due to this extraordinary claim, the New Testament has been scrutinized more intensely than any other text in existence (with the possible exception of its companion volume, the Old Testament). What has been the end result of such scrutiny?
The overwhelming result of this close examination is an enormous cache of amazing archaeological evidence that testifies to the exactitude of the various historical references in the New Testament. As can be said of virtually every article on archaeology and the Bible, the following few pages that document this archaeological evidence only scratch the surface of the available evidence. Nevertheless, an examination of this particular subject makes for a fascinating study in biblical accuracy.


Few who have read the New Testament accounts of the trial of Jesus can forget the name Pontius Pilate. All four gospel accounts make reference to Pilate. His inquisition of Jesus, at the insistence of the Jewish mob, stands as one of the most memorable scenes in the life of Jesus. No less than three times, this Roman official explained to the howling mob that he found no fault with Jesus (John 18:38; 19:4,6). Wanting to placate the Jews, however, Pilate washed his hands in a ceremonial attestation to his own innocence of the blood of Christ, and then delivered the Son of God to be scourged and crucified.
Discovered in 1961, “The Pilate Inscription” offers remarkable archaeological testimony that a man named Pontius Pilate once governed Judea. Credit: Zev Radovan, Jerusalem.
What can be gleaned from secular history concerning Pilate? For approximately two thousand years, the only references to Pilate were found in such writings as Josephus and Tacitus. The written record of his life placed him as the Roman ruler over Judea from A.D. 26-36. The records indicate that Pilate was a very rash, often violent man. The biblical record even mentioned that Pilate had killed certain Galileans while they were presenting sacrifices (Luke 13:1). Besides an occasional reference to Pilate in certain written records, however, there were no inscriptions or stone monuments that documented his life.
Such remained the case until 1961. In that year, Pilate moved from a figure who was known solely from ancient literature, to a figure who was attested to by archaeology. The Roman officials who controlled Judea during Jesus’ time, most likely made their headquarters in the ancient town of Caesarea, as evinced from two references by Josephus to Pilate’s military and political activity in that city (Finegan, 1992, p. 128). Located in Caesarea was a large Roman theater that a group of Italian-sponsored archaeologists began to excavate in 1959. Two years later, in 1961, researchers found a two-foot by three-foot slab of rock that had been used “in the construction of a landing between flights of steps in a tier of seats reserved for guests of honor” (see McRay, 1991, p. 204). The Latin inscription on the stone, however, proved that originally, it was not meant to be used as a building block in the theater. On the stone, the researchers found what was left of an inscription bearing the name of Pontius Pilate. The entire inscription is not legible, but concerning the name of Pilate, Finegan remarked: “The name Pontius Pilate is quite unmistakable, and is of much importance as the first epigraphical documentation concerning Pontius Pilate, who governed Judea A.D. 26-36 according to commonly accepted dates” (p. 139). What the complete inscription once said is not definitely known, but there is general agreement that originally the stone may have come from a temple or shrine dedicated to the Roman emperor Tiberius (Blaiklock, 1984, p. 57). A stronger piece of evidence for the New Testament’s accuracy would be difficult to find. Now known appropriately as “The Pilate Inscription,” this stone slab documents that Pilate was the Roman official governing Judea, and even uses his more complete name of Pontius Pilate, as found in Luke 3:1.


When writing about the Christians in Thessalonica who were accused of turning “the world upside down,” Luke noted that some of the brethren had been brought before the “rulers of the city” (Acts 17:5-6). The phrase “rulers of the city” (NKJV, ASV; “city authorities”—NASV) is translated from the Greek word politarchas, and occurs only in Acts 17 verses 6 and 8. For many years, critics of the Bible’s claim of divine inspiration accused Luke of a historical inaccuracy because he used the title politarchas to refer to the city officials of Thessalonica, rather than employing the more common terms, strateegoi (magistrates) or exousiais (authorities). To support their accusations, they pointed out that the term politarch is found nowhere else in Greek literature as an official title. Thus, they reasoned that Luke made a mistake. How could someone refer to such an office if it did not exist? Whoever heard or read of politarchas in the Greek language? No one in modern times. That is, no one in modern times had heard of it until it was found recorded in the various cities of Macedonia—the province in which Thessalonica was located.
In 1960, Carl Schuler published a list of 32 inscriptions bearing the term politarchas. Approximately 19 out of the 32 came from Thessalonica, and at least three of them dated back to the first century (see McRay, 1991, p. 295). On the Via Egnatia (a main thoroughfare through ancient Thessalonica), there once stood a Roman Arch called the Vardar Gate. In 1867, the arch was torn down and used to repair the city walls (p. 295). An inscription on this arch, which is now housed in the British Museum, ranks as one of the most important when dealing with the term politarchas. This particular inscription, dated somewhere between 30 B.C. and A.D. 143, begins with the phrase, “In the time of Politarchas...” (Finegan, 1959, p. 352). Thus, the arch most likely was standing when Luke wrote his historical narrative known as Acts of the Apostles. And the fact that politarchs ruled Thessalonica during the travels of Paul, now stands as indisputable.


Throughout the apostle Paul’s missionary journeys, he and his fellow travelers came in contact with numerous prestigious people—including Roman rulers of the area in which the missionaries were preaching. If Luke had been fabricating these travels, he could have made vague references to Roman rulers without giving specific names and titles. But that is not what one finds in the book of Acts. On the contrary, it seems that Luke went out of his way to document specific cities, places, names, and titles. Because of this copious documentation, we have ample instances in which to check his reliability as a historian.
One such instance is found in Acts 13. In that chapter, Luke documented Paul’s journey into Seleucia, then Cyprus, and Salamis, then Paphos. In Paphos, Paul and his companions encountered two individuals—a Jew named Bar-Jesus, and his companion Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man who summoned Paul and Barnabas in order to hear the Word of God (Acts 13:4-7). This particular reference to Sergius Paulus provides the student of archaeology with a two-fold test of Luke’s accuracy. First, was the area of Cyprus and Paphos ruled by a proconsul during the time of Paul’s work there? Second, was there ever a Sergius Paulus?
For many years, skeptics of Luke’s accuracy claimed that the area around Cyprus would not have been ruled by a proconsul. Since Cyprus was an imperial province, it would have been put under a “propraetor” not a proconsul (Unger, 1962, pp. 185-186). While it is true that Cyprus at one time had been an imperial province, it is not true that it was such during Paul’s travels there. In fact, “in 22 B.C. Augustus transferred it to the Roman Senate, and it was therefore placed under the administration of proconsuls” (Free and Vos, 1992, p. 269). Biblical scholar F.F. Bruce expanded on this information when he explained that Cyprus was made an imperial province in 27 B.C., but that Augustus gave it to the Senate five years later in exchange for Dalmatia. Once given to the Senate, proconsuls would have ruled Cyprus, just as in the other senatorial provinces (Bruce, 1990, p. 295). As Thomas Eaves remarked:
As we turn to the writers of history for that period, Dia Cassius (Roman History) and Strabo (The Geography of Strabo), we learn that there were two periods of Cyprus’ history: first, it was an imperial province governed by a propraetor, and later in 22 B.C., it was made a senatorial province governed by a proconsul. Therefore, the historians support Luke in his statement that Cyprus was ruled by a proconsul, for it was between 40-50 A.D. when Paul made his first missionary journey. If we accept secular history as being true we must also accept Biblical history, for they are in agreement (1980, p. 234).
In addition to the known fact that Cyprus became a senatorial province, archaeologists have found copper coins from the region that refer to other proconsuls who were not much removed from the time of Paul. One such coin, called appropriately a “copper proconsular coin of Cyprus,” pictures the head of Claudius Caesar, and contains the title of “Arminius Proclus, Proconsul…of the Cyprians” (McClintock and Strong, 1968, 2:627).
Even more impressive than the fact that Luke had the specific title recorded accurately, is the fact that evidence has come to light that the record of Sergius Paulus is equally accurate. It is interesting, in this regard, that there are several inscriptions that possibly could match the proconsul recorded by Luke. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) records three ancient inscriptions that could be possible matches (see Hughes, 1986, 2:728). First, at Soli on the north coast of Cyprus, an inscription was uncovered that mentioned Paulus, who was a proconsul. The authors and editors of the ISBE contend that the earliest this inscription can be dated is A.D. 50, and that it therefore cannot fit the Paulus of Acts 13. Others, however, are convinced that this is the Paulus of Acts’ fame (Unger, 1962, pp. 185-186; see also McGarvey, n.d., 2:7). In addition to this find, another Latin inscription has been discovered that refers to a Lucius Sergius Paulus who was “one of the curators of the Banks of the Tiber during the reign of Claudius.” Eminent archaeologist Sir William Ramsay argued that this man later became the proconsul of Cyprus, and should be connected with Acts 13 (Hughes, 2:728). Finally, a fragmentary Greek inscription hailing from Kythraia in northern Cyprus has been discovered that refers to a Quintus Sergius Paulus as a proconsul during the reign of Claudius (Hughes, 2:728). Regardless of which of these inscriptions actually connects to Acts 13, the evidence provides a plausible match. At least two men named Paulus were proconsuls in Cyprus, and at least two men named Sergius Paulus were officials during Claudius’ reign. Luke’s accuracy is confirmed once again.


Throughout centuries of history, crucifixion has been one of the most painful and shameful ways to die. Because of the ignominy attached to this means of death, many rulers crucified those who rebelled against them. Historically, multiplied thousands have been killed by this form of corporal punishment. In a brief summary of several of the most notable examples of mass crucifixion, John McRay commented that Alexander Jannaeus crucified 800 Jews in Jerusalem, the Romans crucified 6,000 slaves during the revolt led by Spartacus, and Josephus saw “many” Jews crucified in Tekoe at the end of the first revolt (1991, p. 389). Yet, in spite of all the literary documentation concerning crucifixion, little, if any, physical archaeological evidence had been produced from the Bible Lands concerning the practice. As with many of the people, places, and events recorded in the Bible, the lack of this physical evidence was not due to a fabrication by the biblical author, but was due, instead, to a lack of archaeological information.
In 1968, Vassilios Tzaferis found the first indisputable remains of a crucifixion victim. The victim’s skeleton had been placed in an ossuary that “was typical of those used by Jews in the Holy Land between the end of the second century B.C. and the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70” (McRay, 1991, p. 204). From an analysis of the skeletal remains of the victim, osteologists and other medical professionals from the Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem were able to determine that the victim was a male between the approximate ages of 24 and 28 who was about 5 feet 6 inches tall. Based on the inscription of the ossuary, his name seems to have been “Yehohanan, the son of Hagakol,” although the last word of the description is still disputed (p. 204). The most significant piece of the victim’s skeleton is his right heel bone. A large spike- like nail had been hammered through the right heel. Between the head of the nail and the heel bone, several fragments of olive wood were found lodged. Randall Price, in his book, The Stones Cry Out, suggested that the nail apparently hit a knot in the olive stake upon which this man was crucified, causing the nail and heel to be removed together, due to the difficulty of removing the nail by itself (1997, p. 309). [A full-color photograph of the feet portion of the skeleton (showing the nail) can be seen in an article, “Search for the Sacred” by Jerry Adler and Anne Underwood in the August 30, 2004 issue of Newsweek magazine (144[9]:38).]
This rare find of a spiked nail through a human heelbone is the first archaeological evidence that the heels of crucified victims were nailed to a wooden cross, as described in the Bible. Credit: Zev Radovan, Jerusalem.
As to the significance of this find, Price has provided an excellent summary. In years gone by, certain scholars believed that the story of Jesus’ crucifixion had several flaws, to say the least. First, it was believed that nails were not used to secure victims to the actual cross, but that ropes were used instead for this purpose. Finding a heel bone with a several-inch-long spike intact, along with the fragments of olive wood, is indicative of the fact that the feet of crucifixion victims were attached to the cross using nails. Second, it had been suggested that victims of crucifixion were not given a decent burial. Certain scholars even believed that the account of Jesus’ burial in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea was contrived, since crucifixion victims like Jesus were thrown into common graves alongside other condemned prisoners. The burial of the crucified victim found by Tzaferis proves that, at least on certain occasions, crucifixion victims were given a proper Jewish burial (1997, pp. 308-311; cf. Adler and Underwood, 2004, 144[9]:39).


The precision with which Luke reported historical details has been documented over and over again throughout the centuries by archaeologists and biblical scholars. In every instance, wherever sufficient archaeological evidence has surfaced, Luke has been vindicated as an accurate and meticulously precise writer. Skeptics and critics have been unable to verify even one anachronism or discrepancy with which to try to discredit the biblical writers’ claims of being governed by an overriding divine influence.
However, observe the above-stated criterion that serves as the key to a fair and proper assessment of Luke’s accuracy: wherever sufficient archaeological evidence has surfaced. Skeptics often level charges against Luke and the other biblical writers on the basis of arguments from silence. They fail to distinguish between a genuine contradiction on the one hand, and insufficient evidence from which to draw a firm conclusion on the other. A charge of contradiction or inaccuracy within the Bible is illegitimate, and therefore unsustained, in those areas where evidence of historical corroboration is either absent or scant.
In light of these principles, consider the following words of Luke:
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria (Luke 2:1-2).
Some scholars have charged Luke with committing an error, on the basis of the fact that history records that Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was Governor of Syria beginning in A.D. 6—several years after the birth of Christ. It is true that thus far no historical record has surfaced to verify either the governorship or the census of Quirinius as represented by Luke at the time of Jesus’ birth prior to the death of Herod in 4 B.C. As distinguished biblical archaeologist G. Ernest Wright of Harvard Divinity School conceded: “This chronological problem has not been solved” (1960, p. 158).
This void in extant information (which would permit definitive archaeological confirmation) notwithstanding, sufficient evidence does exist to postulate a plausible explanation for Luke’s allusions, thereby rendering the charge of discrepancy ineffectual. Being the meticulous historian that he was, Luke demonstrated his awareness of a separate provincial census during Quirinius’ governorship beginning in A.D. 6 (Acts 5:37). In view of this familiarity, he surely would not have confused this census with one taken ten or more years earlier. Hence Luke observed that a prior census was, indeed, taken at the command of Caesar Augustus sometime prior to 4 B.C. He flagged this earlier census by using the expression prote egeneto (“first took place”)—which assumes a later one (cf. Nicoll, n. d., 1:471). To question the authenticity of this claim, simply because no explicit reference has yet been found, is unwarranted and prejudicial. No one questions the historicity of the second census taken by Quirinius around A.D. 6/7, despite the fact that the sole authority for it is a single inscription found in Venice. Sir William Ramsay, world-renowned and widely acclaimed authority on such matters, stated over one hundred years ago:
[W]hen we consider how purely accidental is the evidence for the second census, the want of evidence for the first seems to constitute no argument against the trustworthiness of Luke’s statement (1897, p. 386).
In addition, historical sources indicate that Quirinius was favored by Augustus, and was in active service of the emperor in the vicinity of Syria previous to, and during, the time period that Jesus was born. It is reasonable to conclude that Quirinius could have been appointed by Caesar to instigate a census/enrollment during that time frame, and that his competent execution of such could have earned for him a repeat appointment for the A.D. 6/7 census (see Archer, 1982, p. 366). Notice also that Luke did not use the term legatus—the normal title for a Roman governor. Rather, he used the participial form of hegemon that was used for a propraetor (senatorial governor), procurator (like Pontius Pilate), or quaestor (imperial commissioner) [see McGarvey and Pendleton, n.d., p. 28]. After providing a thorough summary of the historical and archaeological data pertaining to this question, Finegan concluded: “Thus the situation presupposed in Luke 2:3 seems entirely plausible” (1959, 2:261). Indeed it does.


Acts chapter 18 opens with a description of Paul’s ministry in the city of Corinth. It was there that he came into contact with Aquila and his faithful wife Priscilla, both of whom had been expelled from Rome at the command of Claudius, and who, as a result, had come to live in Corinth. Because they were tentmakers, like Paul, the apostle stayed with them and worked as a “vocational minister,” making tents and preaching the Gospel. As was usually the case with Paul’s preaching, many of the Jews were offended, and opposed his work. Because of this opposition, Paul told the Jews that from then on he would go to the Gentiles. That said, Paul went to the house of a man named Justus who lived next door to the synagogue. Soon after his proclamation to go to the Gentiles, Paul had a vision in which the Lord instructed him to speak boldly, because no one in the city would attack him. Encouraged by the vision, Paul continued in Corinth for a year and six months, teaching the Word of God among the people.
After Paul’s eighteen-month-long stay in Corinth, the opposition to his preaching finally erupted into violent, political action. Acts 18:12-17 explains.
When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat, saying, “This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.” And when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or wicked crimes, O Jews, there would be reason why I should bear with you. But if it is a question of words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; for I do not want to be a judge of such matters.” And he drove them from the judgment seat. Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things.
From this brief pericope of scripture, we learn several things about Gallio and his personality. Of paramount importance to our discussion is the fact that Luke recorded that Gallio was the “proconsul of Achaia.” Here again Luke, in recording specific information about the political rulers of his day, provided his readers with a checkable point of reference. Was Gallio ever really the proconsul of Achaia?
Marianne Bonz, the former managing editor of the Harvard Theological Review, shed some light on a now-famous inscription concerning Gallio. She recounted how, in 1905, a doctoral student in Paris was sifting through a collection of inscriptions that had been collected from the Greek city of Delphi. In these various inscriptions, he found four different fragments that, when put together, formed a large portion of a letter from the Emperor Claudius. The letter from the emperor was written to none other than Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia (Bonz, 1998, p. 8).
McRay, in giving the Greek portions of this now-famous inscription, and supplying missing letters in the gaps of the text to make it legible, translated it as follows:
Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, Pontifex Maximus, of tribunician authority for the twelfth time, imperator twenty-sixth time.… Lucius Junius Gallio, my friend, and the proconsul of Achaia (1991, pp. 226- 227).
And while certain portions of the above inscription are not entirely clear, the name of Gallio and his office in Achaia are clearly legible. Not only did Luke accurately record the name of Gallio, but he likewise recorded his political office with equal precision.
The importance of the Gallio inscription goes even deeper than verification of Luke’s accuracy. This particular find shows how archaeology can give us a better understanding of the biblical text, especially in areas of chronology. Most scholars familiar with the travels and epistles of the apostle Paul will readily admit that attaching specific dates to his activities remains an exceedingly difficult task. The Gallio inscription, however, has added a piece to this chronological puzzle. Jack Finegan, in his detailed work on biblical chronology, dated the inscription to the year A.D. 52, Gallio’s proconsulship in early A.D. 51, and Paul’s arrival in Corinth in the winter of A.D. 49/50. Finegan stated concerning his conclusion: “This determination of the time when Paul arrived in Corinth thus provides an important anchor point for the entire chronology of Paul” (1998, pp. 391- 393).


The Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land provides an excellent brief description of ossuaries in general. The writers explain that an ossuary is a box about 2.5 feet long, usually made out of clay or cut out of chalk or limestone, used primarily to bury human bones after the soft tissue and flesh have decomposed. Ossuaries, in fact,
are typical of the burial practices in Jerusalem and its vicinity during the Early Roman period, i.e., between c. 40 B.C. and A.D. 135. Ossuaries found in the Herodian cemetery in Jericho are dated by Hachlili to a more restricted time period of between A.D. 10-68 (“Ossuary,” 2001, p. 377).
Ossuary panels often had decorations on them, and many had inscriptions or painted markings and letters, indicating whose bones were inside.
Of interest is the fact that many of the ossuaries discovered to date contain the same names that we find in various biblical accounts. And, while we cannot be sure that the bones contained in the ossuaries are the bones of the exact personalities mentioned in the Bible, the matching nomenclature does show that the biblical writers at least employed names that coincided accurately with the names used in general during the time that the New Testament books were written.
Coming down the direct descent on the Mount of Olives is the site known as Dominus flevit, “the name embodying the tradition that this is the place where ‘the Lord wept’ over Jerusalem” (Finegan, 1992, p. 171). In 1953, excavations began in this area, and a large cemetery was discovered, consisting of at least five hundred known burial places. Among these many burial sites, over 120 ossuaries were discovered, more than 40 of which contained inscriptions and writing. Among the labeled ossuaries, the names of Martha and Miriam appear on a single ossuary. Other names that appear on the ossuaries are Joseph, Judas, Solome, Sapphira, Simeon, Yeshua (Jesus), Zechariah, Eleazar, Jairus, and John (Finegan, 1992, pp. 366-371). Free and Vos, in their brief critique of Rudolph Bultmann’s “form criticism,” used ossuary evidence to expose a few of the flaws in Bultmann’s ideas. They wrote:
[S]ome scholars formerly held that personal names used in the gospels, particularly in John, were fictitious and had been selected because of their meaning and not because they referred to historical persons. Such speculations are not supported by the ossuary inscriptions, which preserve many of the biblical names (1992, p. 256).
The ornate nature of this ancient Jewish ossuary with the name “Caiphas” inscribed on it leads many biblical archaeologists to connect this burial box to the Caiaphas of the Bible. Credit: Zev Radovan, Jerusalem.
Along these same lines, Price discussed several ossuaries that were found accidentally in 1990, when workers were building a water park in Jerusalem’s Peace Forest. Among the twelve limestone ossuaries discovered, one
was exquisitely ornate and decorated with incised rosette. Obviously it had belonged to a wealthy or high-ranking patron who could afford such a box. On this box was an inscription. It read in two places Qafa and Yehosef bar Qayafa (“Caiphas,” “Joseph, son of Caiphas”) [1997, p. 305].
Price connected this Caiphas to the one recorded in the Bible, using two lines of reasoning. First, the Caiaphas in the biblical record was an influential, prominent high priest who would have possessed the means to obtain such an ornate burial box. Second, while the New Testament text gives only the name Caiaphas, Josephus “gives his full name as ‘Joseph who was called Caiaphas of the high priesthood’ ” (1987, p. 305). Of further interest is the fact that the ossuary contained the bones of six different people, one of whom was a man around the age of 60. Are these the bones of the Caiaphas recorded in the New Testament? No one can be sure. It is the case, however, that many ossuary finds, at the very least, verify that the New Testament writers used names that were extant during the period in which they wrote.
A note of caution is needed regarding attempts to prove a direct connection between ossuary finds and biblical characters. The most famous such attempt thus far comes from the “James” ossuary that captured the world’s attention in late 2002. The inscription on that particular bone box reads: “James, the son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” Was this the ossuary that contained the bones of Jesus Christ’s physical brother? In 2002, the answer remained to be seen. In a brief article I authored on this matter in December 2002, I wrote: “At present, we cannot be dogmatic about the ossuarial evidence” (Butt, 2002). Currently, the inscription still finds itself embroiled in debate. After analyzing the inscription, a committee appointed by the Israeli Antiquities Authority declared it to be unauthentic. According to Eric Myers, a Judaic-studies scholar at Duke University, “the overwhelming scholarly consensus is that it’s a fake” (as quoted in Adler and Underwood, 2004, 144[9]:38). However, Hershel Shanks, the distinguished editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, insists that the inscription remains antiquated and may possibly be linked to the Jesus and James of the Bible (Shanks, 2004; cf. Adler and Underwood, p. 38).
Whether or not the inscription is actually authentic remains to be seen. Yet, even if the inscription does prove to date to approximately the first century, that still would not prove that the ossuary contained the bones of Jesus’ physical brother. It would prove that names like Joseph, James, and Jesus were used during that time in that region of the world, which would, at the very least, verify that the biblical writers related information that fit with the events occurring at the time they produced their writings. As Andrew Overman, head of classics at Macalester College, stated: “Even if the [James] Ossuary is genuine, it provides no new information” (as quoted in Adler and Underwood, p. 39). When looking to archaeology, we must remember not to ask it to prove too much. The discipline does have limitations. Yet, in spite of those limitations, it remains a valuable tool that can be used to shed light on the biblical text. As Adler and Underwood remarked, the value of archaeology is “in providing a historical and intellectual context, and the occasional flash of illumination on crucial details” (p. 39).


Near the end of the book of Acts, the apostle Paul was making every effort to arrive in the city of Jerusalem in time to celebrate an upcoming Jewish feast. Upon reaching Jerusalem, he met with James and several of the Jewish leaders, and reported “those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry” (Acts 21:19). Upon hearing Paul’s report, the Jewish leaders of the church advised Paul to take certain men into the temple in order to purify himself along with the men. While in the temple, certain Jews from Asia saw Paul, and stirred up the crowd against him, saying,
Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place (Acts 21:28).
In the next verse, the text relates the fact that the men had seen Trophimus the Ephesian with Paul in the city, and they “supposed” that Paul had brought him into the temple (although the record does not indicate that anyone actually saw this happen).
In response to the accusation that Paul had defiled the temple by bringing in a Gentile, the text states that “all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple; and immediately the doors were shut” (Acts 21:30). The next verse of Acts states explicitly what this violent mob planned to do with Paul: “Now as they were seeking to kill him, news came to the commander of the garrison that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.” Under what law or pretense was the Jewish mob working when it intended to kill Paul?
The stone inscription forbidding Gentiles from entering the sanctified area of the temple in Jerusalem. Credit: Zev Radovan, Jerusalem.
A plausible answer to this query comes to us from archaeology. In his description of the temple in Jerusalem, Josephus explained that a certain inscription separated the part of the temple that Gentiles could enter, from the portions of the temple that they could not enter. This inscription, says Josephus, “forbade any foreigner to go in, under pain of death” (Antiquities, 15:11:5). A find published in 1871 by C.S. Clermont- Ganneau brings the picture into clearer focus. About 50 meters from the actual temple site, a fragment of stone with seven lines of Greek capitals was discovered (see Thompson, 1962, p. 314). Finegan gives the entire Greek text, and translates the inscription as follows:
No foreigner is to enter within the balustrade and enclosure around the temple area. Whoever is caught will have himself to blame for his death which will follow (1992, p. 197).
In addition to this single inscription, another stone fragment was found and described in 1938. Discovered near the north gate of Jerusalem (also known as St. Stephen’s Gate), this additional stone fragment was er than the first, and had six lines instead of seven. The partially preserved words clearly coincided with those on the previous inscription. Finegan noted concerning the preserved words: “From them it would appear that the wording of the entire inscription was identical (except for aut instead of eautoo)….” As an interesting side note, Finegan mentioned that the letters of this second inscription had been painted red, and that the letters still retained much of their original coloration (1992, p. 197).
In light of these finds, and the comments by Josephus, one can see why the mob in Acts 21 so boldly sought to kill Paul. These inscriptions shed light on the biblical text, and in doing so, offer further confirmation of its accuracy.


On several occasions, Jesus was accosted by the Pharisees and other religious leaders, because He and His disciples were not doing exactly what the Pharisees thought they should be doing. Many times, the religious leaders had instituted laws or traditions that were not in God’s Word, but nonetheless were treated with equal or greater reverence than the laws given by God. In Mark 7:1-16, the Bible records that the Pharisees and other leaders were finding fault with the disciples of Jesus because Jesus’ followers did not wash their hands in the traditional manner before they ate. The Pharisees said to Jesus: “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?” (Mark 7:5).
Upon hearing this accusatory interrogation, Jesus launched into a powerful condemnation of the accusers. Jesus explained that His inquisitors often kept their beloved traditions, while ignoring the commandments of God. Jesus said: “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition” (Mark 7:9). As a case in point of their rejection of God’s Law, Christ went on to say:
For Moses said, “Honor your father and your mother”; and, “He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.” But you say, “If a man says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban’ (that is, a gift to God),” then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do (Mark 7:11-13, emp. added).
In this passage, Jesus repudiated the Pharisees’ ungodly insistence upon their own traditions, and at the same time included a reference that can be (and has been) authenticated by archaeological discovery. Jesus mentioned the word corban, a word that the writer of the gospel account felt needed a little explanation. Mark defined the word as “a gift to God.” In a discussion of this term in an article by Kathleen and Leen Ritmeyer, the word comes into sharper focus. They documented a fragment of a stone vessel found near the southern wall of the temple. On the fragment, the Hebrew word krbn (korban—the same word used by Jesus in Mark 7) is inscribed (1992, p. 41). Of further interest is the fact that the inscription also included “two crudely drawn birds, identified as pigeons or doves.” The authors mentioned that the vessel might have been “used in connection with a sacrifice to celebrate the birth of a child” (Ritmeyer, 1992, p. 41). In Luke 2:24, we read about Joseph and Mary offering two pigeons when they took baby Jesus to present Him to God. Since these animals were the prescribed sacrifice for certain temple sacrifices, those who sold them set up shop in the temple. Due to the immoral practices of many such merchants, they fell under Jesus’ attack when He cleansed the temple and “overturned the tables of the moneychangers and seats of those who sold doves” (Mark 11:15).


Over and over, biblical references that can be checked, prove to be historically accurate in every detail. After hundreds of years of critical scrutiny, both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible have proven their authenticity and accuracy at every turn. Sir William Ramsay, in his assessment of Luke’s writings in the New Testament, wrote:
You may press the words of Luke in a degree beyond any other historian’s, and they stand the keenest scrutiny and the hardest treatment, provided always that the critic knows the subject and does not go beyond the limits of science and of justice (1915, p. 89).
Today, almost a hundred years after that statement originally was written, the exact same thing can be said with even more certainty of the writings of Luke—and every other Bible writer. Almost 3,000 years ago, the sweet singer of Israel, in his description of God’s Word, put it perfectly when he said: “The entirety of Your word is truth” (Psalm 119:160).


Adler, Jerry and Anne Underwood (2004), “Search for the Sacred,” Newsweek, 144[9]:37-41, August 30.
Archer, Gleason L. Jr. (1982), Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Blaiklock, E.M. (1984), The Archaeology of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), revised edition.
Bonz, Marianne (1998), “Recovering the Material World of the Early Christians,” [On-line], URL: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/maps/arch/re covering.html.
Bruce, F.F. (1990), The Book of Acts (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), third revised edition.
Butt, Kyle (2002), “James, Son of Joseph, Brother of Jesus,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/495.
Eaves, Thomas F. (1980), “The Inspired Word,” Great Doctrines of the Bible, ed. M.H. Tucker (Knoxville, TN: East Tennessee School of Preaching).
Finegan, Jack (1959), Light from the Ancient Past (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press), second edition.
Finegan, Jack (1992), The Archeology of the New Testament (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press), revised edition.
Finegan, Jack (1998), Handbook of Biblical Chronology (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).
Free, Joseph P. and Howard F. Vos (1992), Archaeology and Bible History (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Hughes, J.J. (1986), “Paulus, Sergius,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), revised edition.
Josephus, Flavius (1987 edition), Antiquities of the Jews, in The Life and Works of Flavius Josephus, transl. William Whiston (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).
McClintock, John and James Strong (1968 reprint), “Cyprus,” Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
McGarvey, J.W. (no date), New Commentary on Acts of Apostles (Delight, AR: Gospel Light).
McGarvey, J.W. and Philip Y. Pendleton (no date), The Fourfold Gospel (Cincinnati, OH: The Standard Publishing Foundation).
McRay, John (1991), Archaeology and the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Nicoll, W. Robertson (no date), The Expositor’s Greek Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
“Ossuary” (2001), Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land, ed. Avraham Negev and Shimon Gibson (New York: Continuum).
Price, Randall (1997), The Stones Cry Out (Eugene, OR: Harvest House).
Ramsay, William M. (1897), St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1962 reprint).
Ramsay, William M. (1915), The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1975 reprint).
Ritmeyer, Kathleen and Leen Ritmeyer (1992), “Reconstructing Herod’s Temple Mount in Jerusalem,” Archaeology and the Bible: Archaeology in the World of Herod, Jesus and Paul, ed. Hershel Shanks and Dan P. Cole (Washington, D.C.: Biblical Archaeology Review).
Shanks, Hershel (2004), “The Seventh Sample,” [On-line], URL: http://www.bib-arch.org/bswbbreakingseventh.html.
Thompson, J.A. (1962), The Bible and Archaeology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Thompson, J.A. (1987), The Bible and Archaeology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), third edition.
Unger, Merrill (1962), Archaeology and the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Wright, G. Ernest (1960), Biblical Archaeology (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster).

Whoever Digs a Pit Will Fall Into It by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Whoever Digs a Pit Will Fall Into It

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

One of the most outspoken atheists of the past couple of decades is a man named Dan Barker, who wrote his most recognized work, Losing Faith in Faith, after he “deconverted” from a form of evangelical Christianity to naturalistic atheism. In 1992, he was the public relations director for the Freedom From Religion Foundation. In his book, Baker uses a host of arguments to attack religious people who have attempted to “reconvert” him. In a chapter titled Why I Am An Atheist, Barker lists several reasons that religious people have offered to explain his “deconversion.” Sadly, many of those people attacked Barker’s character. The following is a brief list of some of the allegations they made against Barker.
  • “You are arrogant and hate God.”
  • “Your heart is in the wrong place.”
  • “You are cold, empty, and pessimistic.”
  • “You are an angry person.”
  • “You are too stupid, limited, or afraid to see what is obvious to everyone else.”
After denying these allegations, Barker stated: “A strong clue that a person is arguing from a position of weakness is when character, rather than content, is attacked. Bertrand Russell pointed out that ad hominem is a last-ditch defense of the losing side” (1992, p. 88). Therefore, according to Barker (who agrees with Russell), a person who uses arguments that attack character is a person who is fighting desperately on the losing side.
While the truth of Russell’s statement may be questioned (since there are many ill-informed ad hominem arguers who happen to be on the right side), it nonetheless is quite interesting that Barker falls headlong into his own pit by repeatedly attacking character rather than focusing on real evidence.
In fact, only a few pages earlier, Barker wrote an entire chapter titled “Ministers I Have Known,” in which he proceeded to attack the general character of ministers he has known. On page 78, Barker commented, “When I think of ministers I have known…I picture the overweight perspiring Foursquare preachers, waving their hankies, shouting and prancing about the stage, ruling their churches like little kingdoms.” Just one paragraph later, he included in this list the “skinny Mexican pastor in Nogales whose second wife was pregnant with his twelfth child!… And the televangelist I know who ran off with his secretary and was back on the air in less than two years.” The rest of the chapter consists of the same attack on the general character of ministers, as Barker views them. Near the end of the chapter, Barker wrote: “I have a friend who says if you were to take all the preachers in the world and lay them end to end, it would be a good idea just to leave them there.”
Now, let us apply Barker’s own reasoning to his chapter on ministers. The entire chapter attacks the character of ministers, and thus would be classified as an ad hominem argument (from the Latin meaning “to attack the man”). But, according to Barker, those who use such arguments are using “a last-ditch defense” and are on “the losing side.” In this instance, I agree wholeheartedly.
Again, in his treatment of those who are against abortion, Barker stated: “This is the real drive behind the antiabortionists: misogyny [hatred of women—KB]. I don’t believe that any one of them cares a hoot for a fetus” (p. 213, emp. added) Such a statement is definitely a bold, ad hominem attack on the motive and character of those who disagree with abortion. I, for one, can say with certainty that I do not hate women. However, I also can say with certainty that an unborn baby is innocent, and that God hates the shedding of innocent blood (Proverbs 6:17). It is on this basis that I must stand as an antiabortionist. Once again, using Barker’s own thoughts, he must be “arguing from a position of weakness.”
Please note that this article has not attacked Barker’s character. He is not referred to as a misogynist or anything of the kind; nor are any moral indiscretions alleged in an attempt to discredit his arguments. On the contrary, his own words have been used to show that, if his thinking is indeed correct about ad hominem arguments, then he is arguing from “a position of weakness rather than content,” and such an argument is a “last ditch defense of the losing side.”
[For a more in-depth refutation of Barker’s book, see: http://www.tektonics.org/JPH_BWTB.html]


Barker, Dan (1992), Losing Faith In Faith—From Preacher to Atheist (Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation).

Myth and the Claims of the Bible Writers by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Myth and the Claims of the Bible Writers

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

In academic circles these days it is not unusual to hear a person suggest that the events recorded in the Bible are myths. The word myth is given various meanings, but one that is commonly understood in modern parlance is the idea that the person or event being discussed has “only an imaginary or unverifiable existence” (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary). Thus, the listener or reader is led to believe that the stories found in the Bible do not have a “verifiable” historic base, and are founded on little more than the imagination of the authors. This allegation describing the Bible stories as myth, however, falls woefully short of the truth on a number of grounds.
First, the Bible has been proven to be the most accurate, historically verifiable book that has ever been produced. Years of archaeological finds have unearthed enough evidence verifying the Bible’s accuracy to bury the claim of myth a thousand times over (see Butt, “Archaeology and the Old Testament,” 2004a and “Archaeology and the New Testament,” 2004b).
Second, not a single, legitimate contradiction has been found that would suggest that the biblical writers falsified information. For years, skeptics have found alleged contradictions between the biblical texts. These alleged “contradictions” have been proven to be false, and adequate answers proving the noncontradictory nature of the Bible texts have been given (see Alleged Discrepancies, n.d.).
The list of other evidences that silence the allegation of myth could get quite lengthy. Such aspects as the scientific foreknowledge of the Bible, its predictive prophecy, and its unity over hundreds of years of writing are just a few of these powerful evidences.
It is important to note that along with these various evidences, the testimony of the writers themselves must be added to the material that points overwhelmingly away from the idea that the Bible is mythical. The Bible writers insisted that their writings were not based on imaginary, nonverifiable people and events, but were instead grounded on solid historical facts. The apostle Peter, in his second epistle to the Christians in the first century, wrote: “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (1:16). In a similar statement, the apostle John insisted: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life.... [T]hat which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us” (1 John 1:1,3).
When Luke wrote his account of the gospel of Christ, he specifically and intentionally crafted his introduction to ensure that his readers understood that his account was historical and factual:
Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed (Luke 1:1-4).
In a similar line of reasoning, Luke included in his introduction to the book of Acts the idea that Jesus, “presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).
In addition, when the apostle Paul was arguing the case that Jesus Christ had truly been raised from the dead, he wrote that the resurrected Jesus
was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time (1 Corinthians 15:5-8).
This handful of verses by Peter, Paul, John, and Luke, reveal that the Bible writers insisted with conviction that their writings were not mythical, but were indeed based on factual events. Furthermore, they specifically documented many of the eye-witnesses who could testify to the accuracy of their statements. The claim that the Bible is filled with myths can be made, but it cannot be reasonably maintained. The evidence is overwhelming that the Bible writers understood and insisted that their information was accurate and factual. Their claim of factual accuracy has been verified by the discipline of archaeology as well as by refutations of alleged contradictions between the various writings and history. The Bible is not a book of myth that belongs beside the likes of Mary Poppins or Peter Pan. It is a book of inspired, factual, historically accurate information that deserves its rightful place in the annals of history as the most amazing book ever written—bar none.


Alleged Discrepancies: Apologetics Press, (no date), [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/allegeddiscrepancies/.
Butt, Kyle (2004a), “Archaeology and the Old Testament,” Reason and Revelation, 24[3]:17-23, March, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2502.
Butt, Kyle (2004b), “Archaeology and the New Testament,” Reason and Revelation, 24[10]:89-95, October, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2591.
“Myth,” 2005, Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, [On-line], URL: http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=Myth.

The Real Mary Magdalene by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


The Real Mary Magdalene

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

The name “Mary” appears 54 times in the New Testament. There is Mary, the mother of Jesus (Matthew 1:18), Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2), and Mary, the mother of James and Joses (Mark 15:40), who is likely the same as the “other” Mary (Matthew 27:56,61; 28:1) and “the wife of Clopas” (John 19:25). Also mentioned are Mary of Bethany (John 11:1), Mary, the mother of Mark (Acts 12:12), and Mary of Rome (Romans 16:6). Obviously, Mary (Greek Maria or Mariam) was a popular name in New Testament times. It still is today (see “The Most Popular...,” 2006).
No Mary has been more popular in recent days, however, than Mary Magdalene. A plethora of new books feature her, including Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, which is based on the false notion that she gave birth to the heir of Christ, whose descendants supposedly survive to this day. Mary Magdalene, a name likely indicating affiliation with the Galilean city of Magdala (see “Mary,” 1986), has been the focus of talk shows, movies, books, magazines, and more. Sadly, modernists have greatly misunderstood, exaggerated, and distorted her role in the life of Jesus and the early church. The prevailing idea is that Mary Magdalene has finally been released from the male-dominated, “anti-sexual” religious world (see Carroll, 2006, 37[3]:119), and that the real Mary has finally been revealed. Is this true? Was Mary Magdalene Christ’s secret lover? Did she erotically wash His feet with her hair? Did she eventually become His wife and bear His child? Was she a former prostitute? Just who was Mary Magdalene, really?
Those who have heard only of the newly made-over Mary Magdalene might be disappointed to find that the real Mary of Magdala does not fit the modern-day, dramatized version. Mary Magdalene is mentioned a total of 12 times in the New Testament—the oldest historical record mentioning her name. All 12 occurrences appear in the gospel accounts, wherein we learn the following:
  • Jesus cast seven demons out of her (Luke 8:2; Mark 16:9).
  • She was one of many who provided for Jesus out of her own means (Luke 8:1-3).
  • She witnessed the crucifixion of Christ (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25).
  • She was present at His burial (Matthew 27:61; Mark 15:47).
  • She arrived at Jesus’ tomb on the Sunday following His crucifixion to find His body missing (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-7; John 20:1).
  • She saw the risen Lord, spoke with Him, and later reported the encounter to the apostles (Matthew 28:9-10; Mark 16:9-11; John 20:11-18).
Where are the passages about her physical relationship with Christ? Where are the hints of erotic behavior? Where is the sexualized version of Mary Magdalene? In truth, the new version of Mary Magdalene is a figment of someone’s imagination.
First, the notion of Mary Magdalene being a former prostitute, apparently made popular as early as the sixth century by Pope Gregory I (see Van Biema, 2003), simply is unfounded. Luke did record an occasion during Jesus’ ministry when a woman “who was a sinner” (Luke 7:37, emp. added) and of poor reputation among the Pharisees (7:39) washed His feet with her tears and hair, and anointed them with oil (7:36-50). And, Luke did place this event in his gospel account just two verses before he introduces Mary Magdalene, “out of whom had come seven demons” (Luke 8:2). But Luke never specifically stated that the woman of disrepute was a prostitute, or that her name was Mary Magdalene. Other than the juxtaposition of the “sinner” at the close of Luke 7 and Mary at the commencement of Luke 8, no connection between the two women exists. What’s more, if one argues that the proximity of the two women is what links them together, one wonders why “Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others” (Luke 8:3) could not also be considered candidates, since they are mentioned along with Mary Magdalene.
Second, Scripture never hints that Mary Magdalene and Jesus were married or romantically involved in any way. Did He exercise His power over demons by casting seven of them from her? Yes (Luke 8:2; Mark 16:9). Did she (along with “many others”) financially support His ministry? Yes (Luke 8:2-3). Did she cling to Him momentarily following His resurrection? Yes (John 20:17). Was she a dedicated follower of Christ? From all that we can gather in the New Testament, we must assume that she was. Still, nothing in the Bible suggests that she was Jesus’ wife or secret lover.
Even the so-called Gospel of Mary (Magdalene), which unbelievers freely admit was not written until the second century A.D. (cf. Cockburn, 2006, 209[5]:88-89), says nothing about a sexual relationship with Christ. This non-inspired text does contend that Peter told Mary, “Sister, we know the savior loved you more than any other woman” (Meyer, 2005a, p. 38). Furthermore, in this text Levi described Jesus as loving Mary “more than us” (p. 41). Still, however, nothing sexual is mentioned. The New Testament records how Jesus “loved” Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (John 11:5); the Jews even marveled at His love for Lazarus (John 11:36). Mark wrote of how He “loved” the rich young ruler (Mark 10:21). And John repeatedly testified of one particular unnamed disciple whom “Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 20:2; 21:7; 21:20). [NOTE: Proof that this beloved disciple was not Mary Magdalene is found in John 20:2 where she spoke to Peter and the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 20:2).] When we read the uninspired statements from The Gospel of Mary in light of the fact that the New Testament specifically states that Jesus loved certain individuals, one can see more clearly the lack of sexual overtones.
Anyone who has read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code is aware that his entire novel revolves around the alleged historical fact that Jesus and Mary Magdalene married and had a child together (2003, pp. 244-245). Brown bases his claim on the following brief statements from the non-inspired, gnostic Gospel of Philip, which apparently was penned during the second or third century (cf. Meyer, 2005b, p. 63; Isenberg, n.d.). [NOTE: Brackets indicate missing words.]
Three women always walked with the master: Mary his mother, [] sister, and Mary of Magdala, who is called his companion. For “Mary” is the name of his sister, his mother and his companion (Meyer, 2005b, p. 57).
The companion of the [] is Mary of Magdala. The [] her more than [] the disciples, [] kissed her often on her []. The other []...said to him, “Why do you love her more than all of us?” (Meyer, 2005b, p. 63).
Brown alleges that “any Aramaic scholar will tell you, the word companion, in those days, literally meant spouse” (p. 246, emp. added). Thus, Mary Magdalene and Jesus must have been married, right? Wrong! The Gospel of Philip was not even written in Aramaic, but in Coptic, an ancient Egyptian language. What’s more, the Coptic word for “companion” is synonymous with neither “wife” nor “spouse.” Ben Witherington III, writing in Biblical Archaeological Review, addressed this very point:
The word here for companion (koinonos) is actually a loan word from Greek and is neither a technical term nor a synonym for wife or spouse. It is true the term could be used to refer to a wife, since koinonos, like “companion,” is an umbrella term, but it does not specify this fact. There was another Greek word, gune, which would have made this clear. It is much more likely that koinonos here means “sister” in the spiritual sense since that is how it is used elsewhere in this sort of literature. In any case, this text does not clearly say or even suggest that Jesus was married, much less married to Mary Magdalene (2004, 30[3]:60).
How sad to think that millions of people have been deceived about the relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus because The Da Vinci Code’s fiction is consumed as historical fact.
One might assume that The Gospel of Philip hints at a sexual relationship between Mary and Jesus, since Brown alleges that it states Jesus “used to kiss her often on her mouth” (p. 248, emp. added). The word “mouth,” however, is not in the text. Several words are missing from the Coptic manuscript, including those that would designate where He allegedly kissed her. Perhaps the missing word is hand, head, cheek, or nose. When the woman of Luke 7 kissed Jesus’ feet, He responded by telling Simon, “You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in” (7:45). Jesus’ statement implied that even though the woman wept at His feet, washed them with her hair, anointed them with fragrant oil, and kissed them repeatedly (7:36-39), she did not act erotically. On the contrary, she honored Jesus with humble service and adoration, unlike Simon and the others.
Finally, if Jesus did kiss Mary Magdalene, as The Gospel of Philip alleges, it hardly would justify a case for marriage. This so-called “gospel” mentions elsewhere that the followers of Christ “also kiss each other” (Meyer, 2005b, p. 57). And, according to Scripture, Christians were in the habit of greeting “one another with a holy kiss” since the church began (Romans 16:16, emp. added; cf. 1 Corinthians 16:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; see Miller, 2003). In short, kissing is not equivalent to marrying and having children.
Mary Magdalene apparently was a devout, faithful follower of Christ. Not a shred of solid biblical or extrabiblical evidence suggests she played the role of harlot, wife, mother, or secret lover. The New Testament, as the oldest, most reliable (and only inspired!) witness to her identity, testifies loudly and clearly about her genuine faithfulness to the Lord, and keeps silent about those things which twenty-first-century sensationalists allege. As in so many instances, we must learn to respect the Bible’s silence! And, there is a deafening silence concerning Mary Magdalene as our Lord’s wife or the mother of His child.


Brown, Dan (2003), The Da Vinci Code (New York, NY: Doubleday).
Carroll, James (2006), “Who Was Mary Magdalene?,” Smithsonian, 37[3]:108-119, June.
Cockburn, Andrew (2006), “The Gospel of Judas,” National Geographic, 209[5]:78-95, May.
Isenberg, Wesley W. (no date), The Gospel of Philip, [On-line], URL: http://www.theologywebsite.com/etext/naghammadi/philip.shtml.
“Mary” (1986), Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Meyer, Marvin, ed. (2005a), The Gospel of Mary, in The Gnostic Gospels of Jesus (San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco).
Meyer, Marvin, ed. (2005b), The Gospel of Philip, in The Gnostic Gospels of Jesus (San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco).
Miller, Dave (2003), “Veils, Footwashing, and the Holy Kiss,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2322.
“The Most Popular Names Chosen for Baby Boys and Girls over the Past 120 Years” (2006), [On-line], URL: http://www.thenewparentsguide.com/most-popular-baby-names.htm.
Van Biema, David (2003), “Mary Magdalene: Saint or Sinner,” Time, 162[6]: August 11, [On-line], URL: http://www.danbrown.com/media/morenews/time.html.
Witherington, Ben (2004), “Reviews,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 30[3]:58-61, May/June.

Indirect Observation by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Indirect Observation

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

The idea often is presented that the creation of the Universe is not “scientific” because a supernatural Creator cannot be tested using present scientific instruments and procedures. Eugenie Scott, the Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, avid proponent of evolution and outspoken opponent of creation, has expressed precisely such sentiments: “The ultimate statement of creationism—that the present universe came about as the result of the action or actions of a divine Creator—is thus outside the abilities of science to test” (2004, p. 19). Presumably, because God cannot be “controlled” in an experiment, and because He is a supernatural, non-physical Being, then any information that involves such a God cannot be deemed “scientific.”
It is interesting to note, however, that Scott makes some very pertinent admissions when it comes to the ways in which scientists gather data and formulate their theories. In her discussion of data collection, she noted that some scientific data are gathered from indirect observation. She stated:
In some fields, not only is it impossible to directly control the variables, but the phenomena themselves may not be directly observable. A research design known as indirect experimentation is often utilized in such fields. Explanations can be tested even if the phenomena being studied are too far away, too small, or too far back in time to be observed directly. For example, giant planets recently have been discovered orbiting distant stars—though we cannot directly observe them (2004, p. 6, emp. added, italics in orig.).
She proceeded to suggest that because we know that large planets would have quite a large gravitational pull, and because we see the distant stars “wobble” like they have been pulled by planet gravitation, then we can know that “these planetary giants do exist,” and even estimate their sizes.
Let us, then, analyze what Ms. Scott is suggesting: (1) there are some things in this world that we cannot observe directly; (2) we cannot do tests or experiments on the actual object; (3) nor can we see, taste, hear, smell, or touch them. But we can know that they exist due to the fact that we can see their effects on things.
One reason Scott is forced to admit the legitimacy of indirect observation is the fact that evolution cannot be tested directly. She admits: “Indeed, no paleontologist has ever observed one species evolving into another, but as we have seen, a theory can be scientific even if its phenomena are not directly observable” (2004, p. 14). According to Scott, we cannot observe evolution in action, per se, but we can look at the effects it has left in the fossil record and other areas and call it a “scientific” discipline.
It may come as quite a surprise to the reader that Ms. Scott’s explanation of indirect experimentation is almost identical to the evidence given by the apostle Paul for the existence of an omnipotent Creator: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Paul was simply saying that the general population cannot directly observe the Creator, and yet the effects the Creator causes in this observable Universe are so directly tied to His omnipotent abilities that those who refuse to recognize His existence are without excuse.
Can we look into this Universe and see complex biological machinery that demands a superintending mind? Yes. Can we look at the qualities of matter and energy in relationship to the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics and know that matter cannot be eternal and must have had a starting point? Absolutely. Is it possible to locate irreducibly complex systems in nature that could not have evolved, but must have been designed by an Intelligence that far surpasses any and all human intelligence? Certainly. Then just as surely as Ms. Scott recognizes that much scientific data comes from indirect observation, a rational thinker must admit the legitimacy of obtaining information about the Creator in the same way.
If we can look at phenomena that we know must be caused by a mind, such as computers, cars, and houses, then we can study the characteristics that show they were caused by a mind and look for those same characteristics in nature. When we do, we find abundant evidence that a Mind must have been involved in the Universe to bring about the physical effects that we observe directly. In truth, Creation is the only rational, scientific explanation for the material Universe.


Scott, Eugenie (2004), Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction (Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press).

Therapeutic Embryonic Stem-Cell Research “Just Not Realistic” by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.


Therapeutic Embryonic Stem-Cell Research “Just Not Realistic”

by  Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) is a leader in embryonic stem-cell research, a process whereby living human beings are killed (“California Institute...,” 2007; see Thompson and Harrub, 2001). Recently, a “pioneering Australian biologist who was among the first scientists to grow human embryonic stem cells in a laboratory” will be the new president of the institute (Engel, 2007).
On September 14, the institute’s oversight board announced that Alan Trounson, director of the Monash Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories in Melbourne and a founder of the Australian Stem Cell Centre, will take over as soon as he works out visa requirements (Engel, 2007; cf. “Professor Alan...,” 2007).
It is unsurprising that the board of the California institute chose a man with Trounson’s qualifications. Trounson holds a doctorate in embryology from Sydney University (“Renowned Scientist...,” 2007). In 1998, he was part of a team of scientists from Singapore and Australia, racing to be the first to remove stem-cells from days-old human embryos and grow them in a lab (Engel). Trounson was the first scientist to freeze embryos for future pregnancy attempts (Engel).
Dr. George Q. Daley, co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, called Trounson a “terrific, inspired choice” (quoted in Engel). “This position is going to be the single most important steward of stem cell research internationally,” Daley said, adding, “We’re all envious of California” (quoted in Engel).
Over the past 30 years, Trounson founded eight companies devoted to infertility treatment, biotechnology, and stem-cells (“Renowned Scientist...”). He is a sheep farmer who has cloned cows and wombats (Engel). Trounson definitely is qualified academically and professionally to lead a group such as CIRM. He obviously has no ethical problems with embryonic stem-cell research.
But is he confident that CIRM can accomplish its objective to “heal” people as a result of stem-cell research? Curiously, Trounson has expressed skepticism about the therapeutic potential of embryonic stem-cells: “The so-called therapeutic cloning to my mind is a non-event,” he told Nature Medicine in 2005. As a method for developing cures for dreaded diseases, “it’s just not realistic” (quoted in “Australian Appointed...,” 2007). It is ironic that the man slated to lead one of the world’s premier embryonic stem-cell research centers, is highly doubtful of the possibility of his accomplishing one of the center’s primary objectives.
Evidently, Trounson’s own research suggests what Kelly Hollowell observed:
The best sources of stem cells are (1) from our own organs—termed adult stem cells or tissue stem cells; (2) cord blood (the small amount of blood left in an umbilical cord after it is detached from a newborn); (3) bone marrow stem cells which have been demonstrated to make more than blood but also bone, muscle, cartilage, heart tissue, liver, and even brain cells; (4) and neuronal stem cells which can be stimulated to make more neurons, or to take up different job descriptions as muscle and blood.
Bone marrow and cord blood are already successfully being used clinically, while clinical use of embryonic stem cells is years away. Current clinical applications of adult stem cells include treatments for cancer, arthritis, lupus and making new corneas, to name a few (2001, emp. added).
How sad that many scientists adhere to the technological imperative that we should do whatever we are capable of doing. Any procedure that results in the death of embryos—regardless of the potential for a perceived good—is unethical and unbiblical (Proverbs 6:16-17; see Thompson and Harrub).


“Australian Appointed Head of California Stem Cell Institute” (2007), BioEdge, [On-line], URL: http://www.australasianbioethics.org/Newsletters/266-2007-09-19.html.
“California Institute for Regenerative Medicine” (2007), [On-line], URL: http://www.cirm.ca.gov/.
Engel, Mary (2007), “Stem Cell Pioneer to Lead State’s Institute,” [On-line], URL: http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/california/la-me-stemcell15 sep15,1,1296150.story?coll=la-headlines-pe-california.
Hollowell, Kelly J. (2001), “Nobel Laureates Letter to President Bush Contains Misinformation and Omissions,” The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, [On-line], URL: http://www.cbhd.org/resources/stemcells/hollowell_2001-03-02.htm.
“Professor Alan Trounson” (2007), Monash Institute of Reproduction and Development, [On-line], URL: http://www.med.monash.edu.au/eprb/staff/trounson.html.
“Renowned Scientist to Lead California Stem Cell Institute” (2007), California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, [On-line], URL: http://www.cirm.ca.gov/press/pdf/2007/09-14-07.pdf.
Thompson, Bert and Brad Harrub (2001), “Human Cloning and Stem-Cell Research—Science’s Slippery Slope” [Parts I, II, & III],” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/article/2877.

Did God Send an Evil Spirit upon Saul? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Did God Send an Evil Spirit upon Saul?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The nature of God is such that He never would do anything that is out of harmony with His divine essence. Being infinite in all of His attributes (including goodness and compassion), He never would mistreat anyone, manifest partiality or injustice, or do something that may be legitimately indicted as wrong (Genesis 18:25). “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He” (Deuteronomy 32:4). That being the case, how does one explain the following: “But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him” (1 Samuel 16:14); “And it happened on the next day that the distressing spirit from God came upon Saul” (1 Samuel 18:10; cf. 19:9; Judges 9:23)? Did God supernaturally afflict Saul with a demonic spirit that, in turn, overruled Saul’s ability to be responsible for his own actions?
At least three clarifications are worthy of consideration. First, the Bible frequently refers to acts of deserved punishment that God has inflicted upon people throughout history. For example, He brought a global deluge against the Earth’s population (Genesis 6-9) due to rampant human wickedness and depravity (6:5). God did not act inappropriately in doing so, not only because the people deserved nothing less, but also because He repeatedly warned the people of impending disaster, and was longsuffering in giving them ample opportunity to repent (1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5; 3:9). The Bible provides instance after instance where evil people received their “just desserts.” God is not to be blamed nor deemed unjust for levying deserved punishment for sin, even as honest, impartial judges in America today are not culpable when they mete out just penalties for criminal behavior. Retribution upon flagrant, ongoing, impenitent lawlessness is not only right and appropriate; it is absolutely indispensable and necessary (see Miller, 2002).
In this case, Saul was afflicted with “an evil spirit” as a punishment for his insistent defiance of God’s will. He had committed flagrant violation of God’s commands on two previous occasions (1 Samuel 13:13-14; 15:11,19). His persistence in this lifelong pattern of disobedient behavior certainly deserved direct punitive response from God (e.g., 31:4). As Keil and Delitzsch maintained: “This demon is called ‘an evil spirit (coming) from Jehovah,’ because Jehovah had sent it as a punishment” (1976, 2:170). John W. Haley added: “And he has a punitive purpose in granting this permission. He uses evil to chastise evil” (1977, p. 142). Of course, the reader needs to be aware of the fact that the term for “evil” is a broad term that need not refer to spiritual wickedness. In fact, it often refers to physical harm or painful hardship (e.g., Genesis 19:19; 2 Samuel 17:14).
A second clarification regarding the sending of an evil spirit upon Saul is the question of, in what sense the spirit was “from the Lord.” To be honest and fair, the biblical interpreter must be willing to allow the peculiar linguistic features of ancient languages to be clarified and understood in accordance with the way those languages functioned. Specifically, ancient Hebrew (like most all other languages, then and now) was literally loaded with figurative language—i.e., figures of speech, Semitisms, colloquialisms, and idioms. It frequently was the case that “[a]ctive verbs were used by the Hebrews to express, not the doing of the thing, but the permission of the thing which the agent is said to do” (Bullinger, 1898, p. 823, emp. in orig.; cf. MacKnight, 1954, p. 29). Similarly, the figure of speech known as “metonymy of the subject” occurs “[w]here the action is put for the declaration concerning it: or where what is said to be done is put for what is declared, or permitted, or foretold as to be done: or where an action, said to be done, is put for the giving occasion for such action” (Bullinger, p. 570, italics in orig., emp. added). Hence, when the Bible says that the “distressing spirit” that troubled Saul was “from the Lord,” the writer was using an idiom to indicate that the Lord allowed or permitted the distressing spirit to come upon Saul. George Williams commented: “What God permits He is stated in the Bible to perform” (1960, p. 127).
In this second case, God did not directly send upon Saul an evil spirit; rather He allowed it to happen in view of Saul’s own propensity for stubborn disobedience. Gleason Archer commented on this point: “By these successive acts of rebellion against the will and law of God, King Saul left himself wide open to satanic influence—just as Judas Iscariot did after he had determined to betray the Lord Jesus” (1982, p. 179). One need not necessarily suppose that this demonic influence overwhelmed Saul’s free will. Satan can have power over us only insofar as we encourage or invite him to do so—“for what God fills not, the devil will” (Clarke, n.d., 2:259).
It is particularly interesting to note how the Bible links the frequent attempts at subversion by Satan with the redemptive scheme of God to provide atonement through the Christ. David, an ancestor of Christ, had to face Satan in the form of this “evil spirit” that sought to harm him through Saul, even as Jesus Himself had to face Satan’s attempts to subvert Him (Genesis 3:15; Matthew 4:1-11; cf. Matthew 2:16; Hebrews 2:14; Revelation 12:4). Williams went on to observe: “This explains why so many of those who were the ancestors of Christ were the objects of Satan’s peculiar cunning and hatred” (p. 153).
A third consideration regarding the “evil spirit” that came upon Saul is the fact that the term “spirit” (ruach) has a wide range of meanings: air (i.e., breath or wind); the vital principle of life or animating force; the rational mind where thinking and decision-making occurs; the Holy Spirit of God (Gesenius, 1847, pp. 760-761), and even disposition of mind or attitude (Harris, et al., 1980, 2:836). Likewise, the word translated “evil” (KJV), “distressing” (NKJV), or “injurious” (NIV margin) is a word (ra‘a) that can mean “bad,” “unhappy,” or “sad of heart or mind” (Gesenius, p. 772). It can refer to “a variety of negative attitudes common to wicked people, and be extended to include the consequences of that kind of lifestyle” (Harris, et al., 2:856).
In view of these linguistic data, the “evil spirit” that came upon Saul may well have been his own bad attitude—his ugly disposition of mind—that he manifested over and over again. Here is a persistent problem with which so many people grapple—the need to get their attitude straight regarding God’s will for their lives, and the need to have an unselfish approach to life and the people around them. We can be “our own worst enemy.” Such certainly was the case with Saul—and he bore total responsibility for his own actions. He could not blame God or an external “evil spirit.” Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown summarize this point quite adequately: “His own gloomy reflections—the consciousness that he had not acted up to the character of an Israelitish king—the loss of his throne, and the extinction of his royal house, made him jealous, irritable, vindictive, and subject to fits of morbid melancholy” (n.d., p. 185). Indeed, all people ultimately choose to allow Satan to rule them by their capitulation to their own sinful inclinations, desires, and decisions (cf. Genesis 4:7; Luke 22:3; Acts 5:3).
In view of these considerations, God and the Bible are exonerated from wrongdoing in the matter of Saul being the recipient of an evil spirit. When adequate evidence is gathered, the facts may be understood in such a way that God is shown to be righteous and free from unfair treatment of Saul. Like every other accountable human being who has ever lived, Saul made his own decisions, and reaped the consequences accordingly.
Archer, Gleason L. (1982), An Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Bullinger, E.W. (1898), Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1968 reprint).
Clarke, Adam (no date), Clarke’s Commentary: Joshua-Esther (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury).
Gesenius, William (1847), Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1979 reprint).
Haley, John W. (1977 reprint), Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Harris, R. Laird, Gleason Archer, Jr. and Bruce Waltke, eds. (1980), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Jamieson, Robert, A.R. Fausset, and David Brown (no date), A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch (1976 reprint), Commentary on the Old Testament: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I & II Samuel (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
MacKnight, James (1954 reprint), Apostolic Epistles (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Miller, Dave (2002), “Capital Punishment and the Bible,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1974
Williams, George (1960), The Student’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel), sixth edition.